The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has signed an agreement with the Ukrainian government to increase support for the country’s farmers.

“The impacts of the war in Ukraine have severely disrupted the country’s agricultural production and food exports, jeopardising both local and global food security,” the FAO said on 4 November.

As part of the agreement, a project office would be set up to expand technical and humanitarian assistance to the Ukraine’s most vulnerable communities, particularly in rural farming areas.

“Following the outbreak of the war in Ukraine…, FAO has scaled up its activities in the country to support agricultural production and food systems with the aim of protecting the food security of vulnerable households and communities across Ukraine,” Laurent Thomas, FAO deputy director-general and signatory to the agreement, said.

“This agreement will extend our cooperation in the country, increase Ukraine’s agricultural capacity and protect the food security of the most vulnerable Ukrainians.”

The FAO said it was also supporting smallholder farmers by supplying winter wheat seeds to sustain production levels for the 2023 harvesting season, as well as grain sleeves for the storage and protection of harvested grain.

Rural households were also being supplied with animal feed, monetary assistance and vouchers for essential agricultural inputs and tools, the organisation said.

Other FAO initiatives in Ukraine include the organisation’s revised Rapid Response Plan (RRP) which requires US$115.4M to assist almost 1M people in rural Ukraine up to the end of this year. The initiative includes the provision of crop and livestock inputs, cash to support the most affected smallholder farmers and livestock holders to meet seasonal deadlines. The support would enable households to produce vegetables, cereal crops, milk, meat and eggs, the FAO said.

To address Ukraine’s grain storage crisis, the FAO has developed a Grain Storage Support Strategy (GSSS) which would require an additional US$65M. This extension of the RRP aimed to provide more than 4M tonnes – or 25% of the estimated total need – of grain storage capacity in Ukraine. The GSSS also included the support of the State Service of Ukraine on Food Safety and Consumer Protection by strengthening government capacity for food commodity testing and export certification at border facilities.

To date, FAO has raised around US$80M of the approximately US$180M required for the RRP and GSSS.

The FAO said it expected major difficulties in Ukraine’s agricultural sector, including low returns from the sale of products and access to fertilisers and pesticides. Storage for harvested produce was also in critically short supply.